Google Maps launches wheelchair accessible routes

Since Google Maps launched in 2005, it has become an indispensable tool for many to get from point A to point B on foot, by car, and by public transport. It’s now one of the most convenient ways to get around new areas or plot a journey using several means of public transport. A recent update means that the app will have the added function of choosing routes with wheelchair accessibility. This should be a welcome, if long overdue, change, preventing users from having to find their own way when GoogleMaps leads them to a staircase which they have no way to climb.

Last week, Google launched a new feature on its Google Maps feature, allowing users to plot wheelchair-compatible routes for getting to and from public transport. The new feature is designed for metropolitan areas as an addition to routes including bus and train travel. According to the Verge, the new feature is being trialed initially in six cities; Boston, New York, London, Sydney, Mexico City, and Tokyo. The plan is to launch it in other cities over time, presumably tweaked based on users’ experiences in the first six cities.

According to CNET, the function can be accessed by first selecting Public Transport for your route, then, in the Options section, activating Wheelchair Accessible in the Routes section. The endeavour has reportedly not come overnight as Google had to coordinate with public transit officials in each city to map the relevant routes. It may be some months before the rest of the world gets access to this latest feature, but it’s a feature which should prove very welcome when that day comes.

Ronan Daly

Ronan Daly is a writer who specialises in Technology and Science. With a Masters Degree in English, and over a decade's academic experience, Ronan has brought a breezy, learned style to My Good Planet, making occasionally complex material accessible and understandable to all.